Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Irresistible Italy

My wife and I, along with our friends Jim and Mary, just recently returned from a 10-day trip to Italy, where we were doing logistical advance work for the 2012 World to the Wise Cultural Tour. It had been 17 years since our last visit there, and Becky had never been to Rome, so there was much to see. 
I could have spent a month in Rome. It had a similar effect on me as London and Paris -- the word that comes to mind is gravitas. It's difficult to overplay the presence of the city's ancient history -- I've never been in a city that has succeeded in preserving so much of its ancient reminders. But Rome is much more than Roman ruins, more even than the Vatican and the symbolic yet paradoxical shadow it casts on the local culture. And it is virtually impossible to move about the city without noticing the astonishing attention -- and priority -- given to works of art. Even Florence, in all its Renaissance splendor, can't compete with the countless piazzas adorned with elaborate Bernini fountains and statuary.

Reluctantly leaving Rome behind, we trained to Florence, where we picked up a rental car and drove to a retreat center called Poggio Ubertini, about 30 kilometers outside the city. As we climbed the suburban hills in our peppy little Opel, the view of the Tuscan countryside below brought ooh's and ah's from the wives while I forced myself to keep my eyes on the winding road. Each day in Tuscany brought its own set of adventures, from the obligatory and timeless Renaissance masterpieces in Florence to the picturesque hill towns of Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, from the magnificent Duomo to the salt-of-the-earth Ammirabile family and their wine and olive enterprise we were able to visit. 

We cannot WAIT to introduce our tour participants to this magical land, where you are tempted to forget that the rest of the world exists -- and that's only one leg of next year's tour!

Monday, October 3, 2011

We are pleased to announce the 2012 World to the Wise Cultural Tour, taking place from approximately June 5-21, 2012. Those who participated in the 2010 tour will tell you it was an unforgettable experience that left an indelible mark on each one -- and the 2012 tour promises to be every bit as life-changing!
We'll begin our tour with a few days in London. While our bodies adjust to the time difference, we'll take in sights such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Tower of London, stroll through the Portobello Market, and hit one of the shows in the famous West End Theatre District. Then we'll hop on the Eurostar train that whisks us under the English Channel and arrive in Paris, the City of Lights.
Who can resist the sidewalk cafes, the masterpieces of the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, the artists' square at Montmartre, strolling by the book stalls along the Seine, and of course the Eiffel Tower and possibly a day trip to Giverny, the fabled home of Impressionist master Claude Monet?
For the first time, our adventures will take us to Bella Italia, where we'll spend an entire week exploring the inexhaustible treasures of the sunny peninsula. From ancient Rome and the Vatican, to the Renaissance treasures of Florence, to the fabled hill towns and sun-drenched countryside of Tuscany, to the inimitable charm of the Venetian canals, we predict you'll be reluctant to head home!
Interested? Just e-mail us at admin@worldtothewise.net and request a registration packet or sign up at the right for periodic updates. Space is limited! All you need is a refundable $200 deposit to register for the tour, and the rest can be paid in installments. The tour is open to everyone -- adults, students and parents or grandparents (we do ask that students under 15 be accompanied by an adult).
It has been said that "the fool wanders, but the wise man travels" -- in other words, if you're going to travel, do it with a purpose. Sometimes it takes being lifted out of the confines of familiarity to gain a broader perspective of this world of ours.
We hope you'll join us!